The summer months can make the kitchen feel a bit daunting, when you’re battling high temperatures from every angle. Pasta is one of my favorite things to make when I want to make something delicious, satisfying, and impressive, with relatively minimal work (and no oven!!). This recipe takes advantage of peak tomato season to make a light, but very flavorful sauce. Don’t be intimidated by making handmade pasta: once you get the hang of it, it’s so simple and so rewarding!
Making fresh pasta at home
Any time I need to make an impressive meal, but I don’t want to work too hard, I make fresh pasta. I like to opt for a simple egg dough, which I use in this recipe. Egg doughs are great for handmade pasta because the dough rolls very nicely. The eggs lend an enriched taste, as well as beautiful sunny color! Making pasta by hand might seem intimidating, but it only takes two ingredients, a few tools, and a little bit of time.
This recipe calls for a few specialized tools, most important being a pasta machine. This can be a hand crank machine, or a mixer attachment. I have a Marcato pasta machine that I adore! If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can still make this recipe. Just be aware that you will need to roll the dough very thin in order to get the lamination.
Other tools I recommend having on hand are: a sharp knife or pastry wheel, a bench scraper, and a rolling pin. If you prefer not to mix the dough using the well method on a table, you can also use a bowl.
The best flour for pasta
When making pasta, you generally want to opt for finer ground flours, as this lends the best texture to the dough. In the US, it’s easiest to find All Purpose flour, which works just fine for pasta making. Semola flour is traditionally used in Italy in pasta making, and is great to add to your flour mix, if you can get your hands on it. My favorite brand is Caputo.
If you want to use Semola flour, I recommend getting Antimo Di Grano Duro Rimacinata Semolina Flour. This is a finely milled durum wheat flour, that has the perfect texture for making pasta. This recipe call for only All Purpose simply because it’s easiest to find. If you happen to have Semola on hand, feel free to substitute 50g in your flour mix. Just make sure that you have flour labelled “semola” or “semolina rimacinata” and not just “semolina”. While they are the same type of flour, semolina is much coarser and has a texture similar to cornmeal.
You can also use 00 flour, which is an even softer type of flour used in traditional pasta making. This will yield an even silkier texture in the final product.
Choosing your eggs
Not to sound like an egg-elitist, but pasta is one time you should never skimp on quality eggs. I’m someone that prefers to buy farmer’s market eggs from happy, healthy hens in general, but if you ever needed some encouragement to start sourcing better eggs, this is your sign. Not only do good eggs just taste better, but the yolks are much more vibrantly colored than grocery store eggs due to the diversified diet and better general health of the hens. In turn, these vibrant yolks give your pasta a beautiful color and enriched flavor.
Many pasta recipes call for separating yolks and whites, but I’m admittedly lazy and don’t like doing that if I can avoid it. This recipe calls for 3 whole, large eggs: no separating required.
Mixing your pasta dough
The first step of making homemade pasta is to measure out the flour onto a flat work surface. Make a well in the center, sort of like a wide and shallow volcano, and crack your eggs into the well. Using a fork begin to quickly whisk your eggs, pulling in a little bit of flour at a time from the sides so the flour and egg starts to combine.
Continue to slowly incorporate the flour until the egg is mostly mixed in and not extremely runny. Using a bench scraper, begin to fully mix the dough until it starts to come together in a shaggy mass. Knead by hand, until the dough is smooth and bouncy, about 7-10 minutes. It should be slightly tacky, but not wet.
If your dough feels too dry, spritz it with some water while kneading until you achieve the correct texture. If it is too wet, dust your work surface with flour as needed until the dough reaches the right texture. Make all changes incrementally and slowly. Once the dough is fully kneaded, wrap in saran wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Once the dough has rested, divide it into 4 portions using your bench scraper. Take one of the quarters and roll it into a rough oval with your rolling pin, before passing it through the pasta machine. Start on the thickest setting, and go until the dough is thin enough that you can see your hand through it: this is setting 6 on a Mercato machine.
Laminating your pasta dough
Lay the dough sheet you just rolled out out on the work surface, and decorate as desired with basil leaves. Try to remove the stems, as these tend to poke through the dough and make holes. Get creative! You can also use other herbs or edible flowers if you like. Be sure to press the leaves into the dough so they lie flat.
Repeat the rolling process with another quarter of dough and lay the second sheet on top of the sheet with the basil leaves. Using your rolling pin, press the sheets together before passing it through the machine on the most recently used thin setting (setting 6). Trim any rough edges with your pastry cutter. Then pass the laminated sheet through the pasta noodle side to cut into tagliatelle or linguine.
Dust the cut pasta with semola flour and shape into little nests. Repeat this process with the remaining two quarters of dough until all of the dough has been laminated and cut into pasta.
The simplest tomato sauce
Even though the pasta in this recipe is delicious and impressive on its own, I think the sauce is really the hero of this dish. It’s such a quick pan sauce, that’s light and flavorful and perfect for summer. By searing cherry tomatoes at high heat with smashed garlic, you get a similar result of roasted tomatoes, minus having to turn on your oven. It’s not a particularly saucy sauce, but it coats your pasta in a delicate way that allows you to enjoy the flavors of both the sauce and the herby pasta.
Cooking fresh pasta
It’s best to cook fresh pasta immediately after making it. It only takes a minute or two for it to be fully cooked. If you aren’t going to immediately cook your pasta, you can allow it to dry out a little bit on a baking sheet, before wrapping well and freezing.
This recipe is a small batch dough, and is meant to serve two people, or one with some leftovers. If you’re cooking for a crowd, feel free to double, or even triple the recipe.
I hope you enjoy this Herb Laminated Pasta with Simple Tomato Sauce! Be sure to tag me on instagram so I can see your creations, and leave me a comment below! Your feedback helps other home cooks and bakers who are giving this recipe a try, and I love hearing about what you made!